Frost transcript: Early signing day

Category: Football
Scott Frost
Scott Frost said Troy Walters and Ryan Held stuck with Wandale Robinson's recruitment. "When he committed somewhere else," Frost said, "I gave up."

On how he would characterize this year’s class

“I feel great about the guys we signed. You’ll probably get tired of hearing me say this but I not only feel great about the type of player we brought in but I feel great about the kid we’re bringing in in this class. I had the privilege of going around and stopping at all these guy’s homes, meeting their families and talking to the kids through December and what kept making an impression on me is the type of character kid that has chosen to become a family at Nebraska. I think this is a pretty special group in a lot of ways but the type of individuals they are was really impressive to me.”

On the lack of drama with this year’s class

“I think you’re right. It was a pretty drama free signing day for us because the commitments we had were commitments.  A bunch of good kids that gave us their pledge, they honored it and we honored it. There’s a couple of kids we were fighting for right down to the end, but other than that this group committed to us, and we’re fired up to sign and become a part of our family. It was a pretty relaxing day for us.”

On how much he looks for a certain mentality when recruiting defensive guys

“When we’re recruiting defense we want athletic ability, but we’re also looking for toughness. In fact, when we go out on the road that’s two of our priorities to look for is upside, athletic ability (and) to look for and a guy that you would want to be in a scrap with. That kind of edge, that kind of mentality, that kind of toughness and aggressiveness. That’s what Husker defense has been built on, as I knew it, and the more guys we can get like that I think the better mentality the whole defense will be.”

On Wandale Robinson

“I sure am glad we have Wandale. I really like him as a young man. That’s not even to speak of the things he can do on the football field which I can’t wait to get my hands on that and start working with him. I got to give some credit to Troy Walters and Ryan Held with Wandale because when he committed somewhere else I gave up. I wasn’t going to spend any more time on it, and those guys kind of kept with it. We knew all along that this is where his heart was, and I think there’s a lot of pressure in recruiting that goes on, particularly if the kid is going to leave a school that is closer to home and I sure am glad Wandale followed his heart and came here. We’re going to get started with him real quick, he’s enrolling early and he’ll be here for spring ball and we’ve got a new toy for our offense.”

On if he feels he improved the offensive line with this class

“I’ll keep giving guys credit. Coach (Greg) Austin fights for his group in recruiting as much as anybody on our staff. He wants to get his group right. He takes a lot of pride in that. (I) love the group that we brought in and Coach Austin did a great job with it. Bryce Benhart is as big of a kid as I’ve ever recruited. Not only that but he’s a great kid and a really good athlete, an elite wrestler. Matthew Anderson from Louisiana is the frame we’re looking for. I think he’s got a huge upside once we get him in here and get him with Zach (Duval). Jimmy Fritzsche who joined us late is kind of the same type of kid. Love his mentality, he’s going to be huge and he’s a great athlete that plays other positions. Michael Lynn from Colorado, he’s going to be a special kid. Talking to him is like talking to a 29-year-old the way he has life figured out. I look forward to getting all those guys in here. I think they all have a huge upside, with some work I think they could have some really good upside for us.”

On if Greg Austin had to lobby for Jimmy Fritzsche

“If only you were in our meetings. You only have so many spots in recruiting. There’s a lot of needs for us that need to be addressed and make sure we’re getting the right kind of talent into the program at all the different spots. I think Greg (Austin) would sign 31 offensive linemen if he could. I limit him a little bit, made sure we were getting the right kind of kid, a kid that we all agreed, we thought could be the type of player and the type of person that we wanted and it kind of boiled down to the kids that he ended up getting, and I think he did a great job. I think we signed a really good group up front.”

On Barrett Ruud getting in-state recruits

“I knew Barrett (Ruud) was big in Nebraska. I remember being at a basketball game last winter and they introduced all of the assistants, everybody else got a nice round of applause and the whole Pinnacle Bank Arena erupted with the ‘Ruud’ chant when he came out. He’s the right guy to have in Nebraska. I thought it was a good year in Nebraska, talent-wise; if we can sign five scholarship quality players from the state every year that will be a good start for us. There was some special players in the state this year. All five of them, I think Nebraska people know them pretty well but those guys are going to be huge for us. I think they will help be the backbone of the program we’re starting.”

On signing two high profile recruits from Omaha in Nick Henrich and Chris Hickman

“Those guys were key for us. We can’t let in-state talent get away. We have to win in Nebraska and start moving across borders and getting other kids. I think this staff getting in here had a lot to do with Nick (Henrich) and Chris (Hickman) both deciding to come. I think the relationships they developed really helped with those two guys. Those two guys had a great high school career. A lot of the guys, in-state recruits, I think everyone of our guys either played in the state championship game or the semifinals. If you go across our recruiting class, that’s kind of a common thread. These guys are coming from winning programs, they were winners in high school. Nick and Chris certainly were winners in high school are going to be great for us to have on the team.”

On how his staff recruited the state of Georgia so well

“Giving credit where it’s due, Coach (Sean) Beckton did an unbelievable job down there. That’s one of his areas. I think our coaching staff’s credibility in Florida and Georgia is still carrying some weight. Just happened to be more in Georgia this year than it was in Florida. I love the guys we got out of there. I think we went down there and got the right kind of kid with the right kind of talent and those four kids are going to have a chance to be special around here.”

On how Nebraska successfully signed Ty Robinson

“Ty is our kind of kid. I think he’s a Nebraska type of kid. It helps that his grandpa is from O’Neill, Nebraska. I went to kindergarten and first grade in O’Neill, so we had a lot to talk about. Ty had  lot of places to go. Coach (Mike) Dawson deserves a ton of credit for that, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one coach work so hard for one player as Coach Dawson did to get Ty. Not just Ty but Brent Banks out of Houston, Ethan Piper, who I don’t think gets the credit he deserves out of Norfolk. We needed to add to the depth on the defensive line and Coach Dawson did a great job.”

On Ronald Thompkins

“Ronald’s a guy that other people tried to come in on here late. I think if Ronald would have stayed healthy this year, it might have been tough for us to hold onto him with all the people that would have come after him. One thing I take pride in when it comes to recruiting is that we are as honest as we can be. We give good people our word or say something, we mean it. When a kid is committed to us, we’re committed to them. Even if somebody gets hurt, we’re going to see him through it. Bring them here even if they can’t play. I think that means a lot to kids, means a lot to parents. Ronald went down early on in the season. If you watch his highlights from this year before he got hurt, I think he has a chance to be special, and I think he’s doing well in his rehab process, we’ll see how healthy he is when he gets here. I know I expect great things for him.”

On the process of recruiting Luke McCaffrey 

“Mario (Verduzco) takes pride in recruiting quarterbacks just like he takes pride in coaching quarterbacks. Since I’ve been with Mario we’ve had one of the best quarterbacks in the country every year I’ve been with him. The way he goes about it is very meticulous. I think we had a group of three or four kids that we thought fit us and were the right type of kids. As we gotta to know Luke, we started leaning in that direction. He called and wanted to commit, and we were excited about it. Love his athletic ability, love his mentality and he throws it really well too. I think that improved this year, and he’s going to have a chance to get in here early as an early enrollee and get involved with spring ball so we can’t wait to have him.”

On how important size was for this class

“I said this after the Iowa game that there were a few games this year when looking across the 50 at other teams warming up, I thought teams were bigger than us. That’s not supposed to happen at Nebraska. The Nebraska I know is bigger, stronger and more physical than other teams. We certainly have some of those guys right now, but we need more of them. We want bigger on the two lines but also in other areas. We weren’t just recruiting size, we wanted good players and good athletes. I think we were able to fill those needs for them most part.”

On if the staff will have a chance to relax after this process

“It never ends, you know that. Hopefully we’re not done today. I don’t know how much more we’ll be able to announce, hopefully there’s a couple more signatures that will be announced eventually. With our roster turnover this year, we can sign up to 30, so I think we’ll have around four spots to look for guys in January and beyond. The work never ends. My coaching staff has done a great job. I hired the right guys when I got a job the first time, and I’m grateful to those guys for the work that they’ve done. We’re tired though. First years are hard. There’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of things that need to get done. This staff has three straight years without a bye week so we haven’t had a lot of time to rest. I think we’re all going to enjoy the Christmas break and come back ready to go back to work.”

 

On recruiting “winners” and how important that is

“People that know how to win and expect to win, I don’t think it’s any accident that if you have a bunch of winners in your program and kids that come from winning high school programs that that’s going to lead to good things. I have to say thank you to the high school coaches whose kids are coming our way. Like I said going around and seeing the type of seasons these kids have had, I don’t think there is one that didn’t make the playoffs or go deep into the playoffs or win championships, and I hope that’s the expectation when they get here too because that’s where we’re headed.”

 

On what he looks for when deciding who can be an immediate contributor
“I say this to recruits all the time, we wouldn’t be recruiting them from a physical standpoint if we didn’t think they could come in and play for us. We’re always trying to recruit the best we can and the guys we are recruiting we think have the athletic ability and skill to come in and play. Usually the biggest factor in determining whether somebody plays or not is their level of maturity and if they approach their preparation and approach football like a pro and like an adult so that usually has more to do with whether they get on the field their freshman year than anything else. I tell guys to come in and dive in, go full speed don’t dip your toe in the water. I’d rather see guys tackle the wrong guy full speed than the right guy half speed and the guys that come in and just let it rip usually can see it right away and those guys are typically ready to try to contribute.”

 

On what he likes about Jamie Nance and Darien Chase
“Yeah those two added with Wandale (Robinson), who’s going to be like a hybrid for us, I think is a really good start to adding to our receiving talent and depth. Jamie had a great year down in Oklahoma. He can really run, I mean he can really go. I’m anxious to see what he can run a 40-yard dash in when he gets here because his 100 time is really good. He did kick returns in high school and played defense, did a lot for his high school team. He’s a great kid, we’re excited to have him. Darien we kind of got in on late. My first conversation was with his father, who was a special forces military guy, and we hit it off right away. Darien’s team won a state championship. I was actually at the high school the day they were having the get together to celebrate. He’s a winner. He’s playing basketball, he’s an athlete, tremendous ball skills, great kid. We needed to add to the talent depth in our receiver room, and I think we’ve had a really good start to it today.”

 

On what attracting skill players from numerous states says about the reputation of the Husker offense
“Yeah if you’re a football fan and followed our offense, I think you see the type of firepower it has, and I think that lends itself to having recruits want to come play in this offense. We had a great start and covered a lot of ground in year one. Offensively, (we) still want to get better. Speaking to the last job we had, they were second-to-last in the country in offense when we got there and in two years we were the No. 1 scoring offense in the United States. This one’s heading in the same direction particular with Adrian (Martinez) at the controls. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone in the country. You know if I was a skill player on offense, I’d want to come play with a guy like that.”

 

On if there are any areas of emphasis to recruit before the February signing period
“We’re going to let the dust settle see how many spots we still have. It’s going to be a best available player that we can get to Lincoln. For the most part, I still think there’s some things we’d like to add. I still think we need to improve our depth at outside linebacker and pass rusher so we will keep our eye out for that. If there’s another receiver that we can add, I think our depth there is not really where we want it to be through this first year. I still think we could use a young corner to try to get in here and develop to see if they can help us. So those are kind of areas that we’re looking so it doesn’t really matter skill player on offense, d-line, if we find a kind of player that can help us win games in the Big Ten, we’re going to take them.”

 

On the type of receiver Frost looks for
“Ideally, I just want five guys on the field that can hurt you if you leave them open, and we certainly use guys in different roles and different ways. We’ve kind of had outside receivers who are straight outside receivers, we’ve had running backs who have played slot, slots who’ve played running back, guys that can do multiple things. We’ve had running back types playing ‘Z’ and ‘X’ (receiver) for us before, so I just want five skill players out on the field at the same time who are dangerous and the way our offense is able to distribute it, once we get that way we’re going to be tough to stop.”

 

On if he’s open to adding potential graduate transfers
“We’re definitely going to keep our eyes open. There’s a couple positions where I think we could benefit from having a guy that’s ready to come in and play right now, and if we find the right guy – particularly at the right position – we’ll take a hard look at that. So with three, four, five spots, whatever’s going to be left, we certainly aren’t going to be hunting for every one of those but if it’s the right guy, we’re going to be open to it.”

 

On taking junior college transfers

“Yeah, junior college players, you know the further we get into the development of this program, I think our need for that will go down a little bit every year. We’re still willing to take those guys. At certain positions it probably matters more than others to get in here for spring ball, but if it’s the right kid we’ll bring him after May, too. Again, if we have spots after today it’s going to be the best we can get, guys that fit us the best whether it’s a grad transfer, a junior college kid or a high school kid.”

 

On how many commits are enrolling in January and if that gives them a head start toward seeing the field this fall

“By last count if I’m not mistaken there’s going to be six early enrollees, we’ll have to see how it all shakes out. I’ve seen it work both ways. Guys not get here until summer or get to school until summer and still contribute greatly their freshman year. It does help to get that spring ball under your belt. I think it gets you a little more familiar with the scheme, it gets you comfortable with the team and maybe most importantly it gets you used to going to college and having to deal with a college lifestyle. I hope we have players that are here early that help us next year. I hope we have players that aren’t coming until next summer that help us next year. I’m excited about this class, and I think this group is going to be mature enough and ready enough to come in and compete.”

 

On taking the entire staff on in-home visits

“At this time of year a lot of the coaches have been around each other a lot and all our little habits are starting to wear on each other, I’m always careful to bring everybody together. There were a few kids here down the stretch that we wanted them to know how important they were to us, and we kind of intentionally put them off to the end to give us the best chance to be as late into the home as we could. Boy, they were fun. We were at Ty’s (Robinson) house with the entire staff had some cornhole going on, some ping pong, a little bit of basketball, a bonfire and a camel and a dog that can go get waters out of the fridge on command for you. It was a fun night, and it ended up paying off for us.”

 

On if the camel could fetch water, too

“Calvin the camel, I don’t know…I thought camels carried water around with them, I’d have to check on that.”

 

On the possibility of quarterback Andrew Bunch transferring

“I don’t want to get into Andrew’s business too much. I really like the kid, and I want what’s best for him. I think after talking to him he just wants to explore his options and see if there’s a place out there where he can get out on the field and play or have a better chance to get on the field and play. If he doesn’t find that then we’ll welcome him back here with open arms. He’s been a great teammate and a great part of our team. I want what’s best for him no matter what he decides.”

 

On expanding to an eight-team playoff

“I’m a proponent of an eight-team playoff, I have been. I’ll keep this short for you, but it needs to be the five major college conference champions and three at-large. I think that makes the most sense. Then a team like UCF this year or last year would have a chance to go compete for it. Take the case of the Big Ten this year, if Northwestern would’ve beaten Ohio State in the championship game, I think they win the Big Ten they deserve to be in and Ohio State probably deserved to be in too at 11-2 or if they were 12-1 and lost in that championship game. I think that gives you the best chance to solve it on the field and any sport where it’s solved on the field and not in a committee room is a better sport to me. And I’ll continue to push this; I don’t think college football is fair and equitable until every conference plays the same number of conference games. If we get those two things fixed, I think college football will be in a better place.”

 

On the message to the team as they go home for winter break

“I think they know what they’re in for when they get back, but I think they’re looking forward to it. I just got done with an interview at HuskerVision and I said I can’t remember a season when I just got done with season and I was so quickly excited about getting started next year. I think a lot of people in our building, from our coaches to our players have that feeling. I want the guys to get away and go enjoy Christmas with their families, and when they come back we’ve got to get to work. Our team is going to be in a lot better shape this year than it was last year. We had to start from ground zero from a strength and conditioning standpoint with the guys. With a year under their belt with Zach (Duval), we’re way ahead of where we were a year ago, and I can’t wait to get started with them.”

 

Closing statement

“Last thing I’d say is I want to thank a few guys that never get named very often, but Sean Dillon and Ryan Callaghan and Trent Mossbrucker, our three recruiting guys are the guys organizing travel and keeping tabs on recruits and getting NLIs (National Letters of Intent) out and getting transcripts and doing the behind-the-scenes work. We couldn’t get many of these players without these guys so I just wanted to mention them.”

 

 

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